Written by Gábor Kardos, philosopher for a Standing Rock solidarity protest at the US Embassy in Budapest last Thursday, the 10th November.
Standing Rock became the symbol of planetary resistance against a deadly 'global' civilization based on fossil fuel burning, a deadly system consuming irresponsibly our vital resources. All Native Americans decided to support the resistance of Sioux nation standing up to defend together the Missouri river, the sacred water and natural resources in their reservations, as well as their rights 'guaranteed' by many treaties and, last but not least: sacred burial places of their ancestors violated by the construction of the infamous North Dakota Pipeline. Let's see from the very beginning how all these elements stand together as clear evidences in their indigenous logic and spirit which reveals to be in perfect harmony with new scientific evidences emerging now also in the western world.
If we really face the reality of this oil business, we cannot accept as a 'solution' what President Obama proposed recently ('rerouting' the pipeline in order to spare the sacred burial places of Native Americans). Of course, not to violate all the rights and feelings of those people is still better than nothing, but it does not change fundamentally the problem and all what is really at stake now with the Black Snake issue. The native people clearly know this, but they need our support to show that building the same pipeline elsewhere is only a diversion, not a solution. This is the main purpose of our open letter.
Why don't we care about the very nature of fossil fuel and its role, its natural place in the world?
As we are supposed to know (but we never seem to take note of this in acts): petrol, fracking gas and all fossil fuel resources in general come basically from living beings, plants and animals dead longtime ago. In other words: the reserves of petrol and gas are huge natural cemeteries, burial places of ancient living beings supposed to rest in peace – at least, if we think of that consistantly like indigenous people, like people living really on this planet and with this planet and not like extraterrestrial zombies (currently called consumers) only keen toconsume all that.
Now this is not 'indian folklore', mere mythological or religious thinking of 'primitive people', as anybody can easily recognize how deadly is this black substance by its essence, if we pour it all over our garden... You surely know what happens: the petrol kills all living beings not only when it accidentally pours on the ground, on plants or animals, but also in the sea, when it leaks from tankers wrecked on our shores. We have all seen the horrible pictures of desolation when all the fish and sea birds die from petrol spread in the sea... or anywhere else – but till now we never seemed to realize what this horrible experience actually means for the essence of petrol. Till now we refused to recognize how deadly this black substance reveals to be for any kind of life and why. Clearly we refuse to see this experimental evidence as we badly need all that 'energy' extracted from fossil fuel for our comfort.
Nevertheless the fact remains a scientific evidence, easy to verify even in our everyday experience: any fossil fuel is a deadly substance by its origin and also by its effects on living beings. Western sciences do not give us sufficiently clear explanations why and how this deadly origin results in deadly effects (perhaps the western science-administration and financing system was not interested in the study of these subjects, or, more exactly, the ruling oil powered civilization was mainly interested to not to study and link these problems globally till now).
It is a matter of fact that we should highlight even if it is hard or even horrible to recognize that western culture (including science) simply does not care about the most evident and fundamental questions regarding hydrocarbons treated merely as fuels for our system. The questions regarding environmental issues only emerge fundamentally separated from the origin and the use of fossil fuel as if the oil contamination of water resources could be totally independent from all that, happening only as an 'accidental' phenomenon, not a systematical consequence.
This way we reject the responsibility on nature or on some obscure hazard ('accidents'), instead of assuming the responsibility of our own acts, assuming the results of a system fully operated by humans. So let's ask these fundamental questions: What is fossil fuel? How to define its role in our society and in nature? What is the meaning of this widely exploited substance? Where is its place in the world (in our culture as well as in the order of nature)? Our western world lacks of answers to these questions and we even notoriously ignore these questions. They function as taboos in so called 'primitive' societies. Why we westerners do not care about these fundamental questions and only native, indigenous people really do?!
We can take for granted that the subject is vital, so we urgently need a logical explanation and it seems that (in absence of appropriate scientific studies) we can only learn it today from indigenous cultures, namely 'Indians' or Native Americans who clearly recognize how and why fossil fuel is a deadly substance, symbolized by the Black Snake, materialized from their point of view in the construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
Let's summarize it in clear and simple logical terms: any form of life is based on water, which is not only a vital resource for life (drinking water), but the very essence and basis or matrix of life. Life is ecologically a synonym of water. That's why fossil fuel (as a substance of death, coming from formerly dead plants and animals) should be clearly isolated, separated from water resources. If not, if fossil fuel contaminates our waters, it kills everything. Now the industrial fossil fuel extraction methods use largely water or result in contaminating the water resources, especially in case of fracking, which is clearly the worst and the most deadly extraction method.
By the way fracking is not only a local threat for the environment, but also a global threat as cheaper oil means more consumption andbigger impact on global warming by the growing greenhouse gas emission. Beyond this fact the fracking and this infamous Black Snake of the North Dakota pipeline is a global threat for all of us as it involves an escalation of conflicts, global wars for petrol and natural resources in the world. Promoting the new method of extraction by fracking the global US policy is pushing conventional petrol producing powers like Russia and also Arabic countries to fight against lower petrol prices by ANY means, including the ever growing danger of a new world war, added to the ecological disaster caused by fracking.
If we really consider what happens, fracking is not only a fossil fuel extracting technology but a kind of industrial apocalypse, whether it is on purpose or not. Black Snake is a great symbol of this all-round destructive and evil process. At the same time, Standing Rock is a great and meaningful symbol of the Earth only seriously protected today by the native people against those who basically look after new methods of colonizing our planet, the vast lands as well as the smallest atom or molecule of nature only used for exploitation and particular profit.
In many conflicts the opposition is not clearly a combat between Good and Evil, as the opponents have their own positive and negative aspects, qualities and defaults, which should be pondered in our judgment if we want to be fair, or we should even avoid any general judgment because of the complexity of the situation. Very rarely we have an occasion to experience such a clear opposition between forces of Good and Evil as in the case of armed forces violently attacking the Standing Rock defenders while they are peacefully praying for all, even for the forces attacking them... So we should have the courage to pronounce our judgment in such a special situation.
The global responsibility of western science and culture: are they more sustainable than our industrial model in economy based on a global colonization of the whole planet or the western legal system supposed to legalize it?
This said, the Black Snake Lakota prophecy is not 'merely mythological tale', 'Indian folklore or superstition', but a much more meaningful symbol largely corroborated by recent scientific warnings, as well as Standing Rock which became a great symbol of planetary resistance against 'global' anti-globe forces – all that makes perfectly sense from a scientific point of view based on facts and proved ecological evidences.
So if this is a conflict between science and ignorance or obsolete, barbarian superstition, the side of the latter is that of petrol people and the protesters represent the most up-to-date, advanced or enlightened knowledge in conformity with the latest scientific evidences. Petrol people turn to be inhuman inquisitional forces of the Black Snake against the human forces of progress. They are not only forces of the past (of a now obsolete 'modernization' which consisted unfortunately in heavy industrialization) – they are forces acting against any future on Earth.
Progressive, scientifically based knowledge changed sides – the native position represents now the future against Black Snake and all the tenants of the outdated fossil fuel based system
The Black Snake, the petrol-based western civilization is not only a culture of death but -it is highly important to highlight this as a matter of fact- it is a dying civilization now. Surprisingly enough, as many might have considered the Native American culture or even the people as nearly extinct, as a dying or agonizing culture opposed to an ever growing, developing, modernizing 'cowboy' culture, plenty of life, supposedly winning definitely the competition for survival against the indigenous people, largely exterminated by them.
It is very important to see now how the extermination of indigenous people and cultures is deeply linked to the exploitation of natural resources as both were and still are the results of the same global western attitude of colonization. The American genocide was clearly part and consequence of a global ecocide system which sees every single part of the world (even the smallest atom or nuclear element of it) as a means of exploitation, every part of the world is only 'meaningful' as a resource for greater comfort (at least for those who benefit from it, excluding others).
Our basic and even exclusive attitude towards anything or any living being in the whole world is how to consume it, how to use it, which logically means for all the living beings torture and finally death. The western way of life is currently called 'consumer society', but we avoid to name what is really consumed by this type of society. Let's call it by its real name: it is a planet-consumer society. At the end of the day (or of this decade) we consume dramatically our vital resources, the very conditions of our life as a species, but also the life conditions of other species living around us.
Standing Rock is the symbol of a final combat between the cultures of life and the 'global' western civilization of death. The planetary ecosystem, the biosphere is resisting against global industrial aggression more and more vigorously like Native Americans standing up now to defend the natural resources of life in this final combat. We should not be fooled by stupid industrial propaganda and adverts: it is clear that Black Snake cannot win and even its hypothetical final victory would be a total disaster, a technological apocalypse for all of us.
That is why Native Americans pray also for the armed people assaulting them disguised as police or private militarized forces defending the pipeline corporation. Their surrender in this conflict is also the interest of the people engaged on the other side, including police or even the owners or shareholders of the pipeline corporation. They also drink water and eat food grown on a living ground threatened in its very existence by the Black Snake strangling the water and natural resources at a global scale. So, paradoxically, it is their ultimate interest also to be defeated in this combat. They simply cannot really win in any case. That is why the movement of Standing Rock is so solid and strong as an ultimately clear truth.
Not only we should morally support the Native Americans in their combat against the Black Snake, but what is really at stake in this spiritual and physical combat is that we should finally realize that we are all indigenous people on this planet and we should protect the natural resources of life altogether. Solidarity is not enough any more, we should learn how to live together in peace, including not only native people, but every form of life on Earth.
Who is marginal and who represents the great majority?
Are western democracies also designed to fail?
Native Americans are far from being alone in their combat. On the contrary: it is Black Snake, the corporation-world which is, in fact, a small, marginal minority, even if it is still parading as 'law enforcement' representing the interests of the majority or even the whole society. It is supported in fact only by the corporate lobby and their government. That means: very few people against the whole society and, finally, against the whole planet. What is an apocalyptic combat if not this one?
Indigenous people of Standing Rock are far from being alone or isolated now. Beyond other indigenous people from around the whole world, activists and more and more active citizens from the western world are also supporting them.
Recently the Pope Francis surprised the whole world by banning for ever the fossil fuel based system in the very first encyclical dedicated to ecological issues in Christian history: Laudato si'. How to read this now if not as a great and meaningful support of Standing Rock combat against the Black Snake? By his revolutionary encyclical the spiritual leader of the largest religion of the world (with far more than a milliard believers) clearly chose side in this final combat against Black Snake, supporting Standing Rock. So who represents the interests of the majority?
The answer is evident by now. If we really asked, consulted democratically the people, they support the side of Standing Rock, the side of Nature by a large majority, but the problem is that the system goes so far in protecting the interest of corporations against all the rest (including the vast majority of people) that today the power avoids any significant or real democratic consultation of the will of people.
If this happens, we cannot call it a democratic government as it acts as a more and more dictatorial power. Not only against Native Americans but against anybody trying to resist, including a journalist, who risks now 45 years of prison simply because she tried to cover Standing Rock resistance as a journalist and report about the aggressive repression by 'law enforcement' special troops. Deia Schlosberg was not alone to be arrested and prosecuted just for doing her job, for being a journalist. They should be freed immediately as well as all the peaceful protesters arrested!
The highly aggressive reactions of the power show how much they fear Standing Rock movement becoming more and more popular across America and even globally, despite the long lasting mainstream media blackout around the subject. Their system of aggression against the sovereignty of people does not work any more, especially now that it becomes more and more evident that this system of planetary aggression fails against the sovereignty of nature, against the fundamental laws of our biosphere – they are clearly losing their global war against us and against the planet. Black Snake of industrial globalization gets to strangle itself. Let us help it in this agony to shorten the global suffering!
This letter was written first of all to support indigenous people and activists by their side at Standing Rock defending natural resources of life against a civilization of death. This letter is also a warning to the rulers, governors, corporate lawyers and special militarized forces assaulting peacefully protesting people that they risk to lose all their legitimacy, all their power by continuing their aggression against water protectors and against the most vital public interests.
They cannot win this combat, the sooner they surrender, the better it will be for them from the true ecological law enforcement point of view as well as for their personal life! They should know that they will be judged sooner or later not only by human tribunals but also by the elements, by the fundamental laws of this planet. The judgment of this ecological law enforcement is harder than the human one – the privation of water, air and healthy food is the greatest punishment we might imagine and this is exactly the punishment they are facing now by supporting corporate interests and dictatorial use of power against public interests and against the laws of nature.
The age of global colonization is over
We have never seen before in human history such a huge global coalition of indigenous people and cultures supporting Standing Rock in North and South America, as well as in Africa, in Asia and across the Pacific. This is a great sign that colonization cannot continue the same way, as the resistance goes also global with the internet age.
What is historically at stake is that we should finally end this unfair and infamous fight against all the native which became a horrible prejudice and 'civilizational standard' of western way of life for roughly two centuries. We should even have a minimum of fairness to recognize honestly that the western colonizers, cowboys, farmers and corporate industrials have lost their long lasting war against indigenous 'Indian' people. This system based on colonization should be really finished now, any kind of colonization against people as well as against other beings and the whole planet. Challenged by the vast construction of railways as a powerful symbol of the 'development and the modern world' (in fact: a system of colonizing and exploiting the whole world), the legendary Chief was right in saying that 'At the end the prairie grass will win'. It is not only the vital force of the surviving 'Indians' which defeats the westerner world-colonizers now, but the vital forces of the planet.
We can be part of this great movement, every one of us can chose to be part of this victory of the major forces of this planet by joining Standing Rock movement. We are all brothers and sisters not only between humans, but the Native Americans like many other non-primitive, sustainable culture teaches us now that all the other beings are also our fellows. Even the fossil fuel reserves, minerals, planets and animals which should not be exploited basically or treated in harshly inhuman ways, but they should be also respected as much as possible. If we profoundly respect all beings like Standing Rock people, we also give this way the best and safest guarantee against any kind of exploitation of people.
This is our last choice, the final call and we won't have any other opportunity but joining and supporting Standing Rock movement in order to protect the natural resources of life for this planet. Not for us, but for the planet, for Life. This is the voice of all the people of the Earth and what it whispers with all the forests, all the murmur of the living as the conclusion of this Standing Rock story is of out-most importance: We should all live together as indigenous people of this planet – we are all fellows, we are one, either we end our speech by Amen or How.